Sunny days are just around the corner. Freedom and fun await. With trips to plan and bags to pack, what are you going to do with your kids this summer? What will your summer hold?
There are so many good options in and around Knoxville now. There’s Tate’s, Webb camp, Ijams, and School of Rock to name a few. VBS, swim team, dance camps, cheer, baseball, soccer, football, and any sport….. You name it and I bet you can find it. Whether it be the arts or sports, there are so many fun options.
When I was growing up, my summer days did not include camps. I never went to sleep-away camp. And, my family didn’t have the extra cash to pay for entertainment camps. Most days were spent hanging at the pool with my best friends. That’s it. That simple. Slumber parties, a trip to the beach, a boat ride on the lake, and playing. I was not deprived but it would seem so when I look at the norm today.
In this culture, we are conditioned to be led by schedules, structure, and deadlines. (I’m not immune!) The busier, the better! (or is it?) With all the craziness that the school year brings, especially the insane month of May, we welcome slow starts and easy ends to the day. And, I just don’t believe there’s some big benefit to filling the short summer months with schedules. Yet, I know this is not the norm.
What I’m thinking is truly beneficial for our children and families is actually spending time together. Instead to signing up for a different camp every week and cramming the days, what about creating some creative time and quieter outings for your family? Maybe we should even just take it easy and see what happens. Not having a schedule is not so bad. I know not every family has this option because many working parents don’t have a choice. But, many who do don’t take this route.
It’s not that parents don’t want to spend time with their kids, right?! One reason is because it’s just become the norm. What camps are you signing up for? It’s just what we do. And, then there are parents who don’t know what to do with their children or feel more comfortable having someone else plan every day of the week. Some parents just want to wear the kids out! Some kids really do want to play with their friends at camp and ask to go. And, many want to make sure to keep up with the Jones’.
Now, it could be worse. Kids are getting socially stimulated, while also staying active. And, I’d bet they’re having a little fun too! Camps sound fun to me too! Children who have the privilege of attending a camp are better off than having an electronic device babysit them all summer and sitting inside. There are certainly more wasteful ways to spend the summer!
But if we take a moment to reflect, we’d realize that kids grow up too fast. We want and need to spend time with them because they’ll be gone before we know it. And, we want to continue to steal time imprinting our values on them. With the influence of social media and the abundance of external factors that influence our children, it’s now more than ever that we need time with our children, not time away.
It will be nice to spend the mornings at a slower pace and see what the day brings. Maybe we don’t every week but don’t be afraid to slow it down a bit and explore together. What if our summer camp includes:
- Reading in pj’s
- Cooking 3 real meals a day
- Doing a book study together
- Exploring a new hiking trail
- Playing in a creek
- Going on a long bike ride downtown
- Hearing some free WDVX music
- Visiting a new park
- Mountain biking at Baker’s Preserve
- Wandering around at Ijams
- Making a day at the Zoo, the KMA, the Muse, or the Oak Ridge Children’s museum
- Lounging at the pool
- Hanging in the hammock
- Planning a lemonade stand for a charity
- Planting a garden
- Climbing a tree
- Getting to know our neighbors better
- Getting to know each other better
There’s no shortage of family-friendly activities in and around Knoxville, or even in our own backyards! There’s the saying, the family that prays together stays together. But, I also believe:
A family that plays together, stays together.
Bring on summer!